McArthur Range, West Coast – March 2023
The McArthur Range is a typically rugged West Coast range, situated north of the Arahura River, and west of the Taipo Valley. Two bivouacs grace its tops; the Lower Olderog and Top Olderog. The latter recently got an extensive overhaul, thanks to funding from the Kaimahi for Nature (Jobs for Nature) scheme, and orchestrated by the Backcountry Trust’s energetic Ollie Clifton.
The team included Permolat legend Andrew Buglass, machine-efficient Al Ritchie, and Liam Hall.
‘We replaced the roof with a new Pioneer Red Coloursteel roof, using some surplus sheets back at the DOC workshop in Hokitika. We also installed two new aluminium framed windows, a new watertank, and re-painted the external cladding to a more modest ‘Lichen’ colour.’
‘Fixing new tie downs to external walls of the biv, entailing a LOT more work than we had appreciated! We had to dig holes for the deadman anchors, but struck stubborn layers of fractured schist below ground. If not for the determination and hard-arse shovelling of Andrew, I doubt whether we would have got them done.’
‘We also added stainless sub-floor fixings to the pile-bearer connections, re-hung the door so that it now opens outwards, and put in with new stainless flashing to the door sill, and jambs.’
‘It was great to be able to sit inside the biv on our pit day, listen to the rain driving in against the door, yet see no moisture getting in at all.’
‘I can't wait to get in there on foot. Looking at all the browned-off Mt Cook buttercups above the biv, I'd guess this is a really magical place in early summer.’
Not only is Top Olderog Bivouac over 50 years old now, but it is one of the very animal control huts of the era for which there is a complete photographic record of its construction. One of the historic pictures from this series is shown here.
According to the Permolat website (remotehuts.co.nz), Top Olderog was built in 1971 by Tony Newton and Mario Geremia of NZFS Hokitika. It was one of the last of the B142 high-stud bivouac designs built, and has two sleeping platforms, and mattresses. Two small tarns provide water, and there is no toilet. The Permolat website provides excellent advice for routes into this special location.
Thanks to the team for a superb job!